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Motegi 2004: Tamada victorious in dramatic race

Motegi 2004: Tamada victorious in dramatic race

Motegi 2004: Tamada victorious in dramatic race

Last year at Motegi, Makoto Tamada took a clear victory in his home Grand Prix after a dramatic race which saw six riders crash at the first corner. Pole setter Tamada got a poor start but stayed clear of the melee as John Hopkins, who followed Valentino Rossi into the first corner in second place, was wiped out by Loris Capirossi with the two sent sprawling across the track. Colin Edwards and Max Biaggi could do nothing to avoid the stricken bikes and were also sent tumbling into the gravel, followed by Kenny Roberts and Nicky Hayden.

The slight gap which formed behind Rossi was quickly made up by Tamada who pursued the Italian over the opening stages of the race and made his attack on the sixth lap, taking the lead to the delight of 67,158 record home crowd. The pair went head to head for the remainder of the race, but Rossi was unable to match Tamada's electric pace in the closing laps and was forced to settle for second place.

The early gap which formed at the front of the pack saw Marco Melandri hang on to third place for eighteen laps until Shinya Nakano completed an incredible home race for Kawasaki by overtaking the Italian and hanging on for their first MotoGP podium. Melandri, making his 100th Grand Prix appearance, suffered in the closing stages of a hot and humid race and was also overtaken by Alex Barros, who snatched fourth spot with four laps remaining after Troy Bayliss crashed out.

Whilst Melandri equalled his fifth place finish from the season before, Sete Gibernau will be bitterly disappointed with sixth, a result which left him 39 points adrift of Rossi at the top of the standings. Carlos Checa recovered seventh place after running off the track whilst Neil Hodgson came home in eighth to secure his best finish of the season.

Hodgson was followed across the line by his Ducati team-mate Ruben Xaus whilst Alex Hofmann completed a perfect day for Kawasaki with the final top ten slot. Olivier Jacque picked up five points for Moriwaki on his return to MotoGP whilst Shane Byrne fought through the pain barrier to finish one place behind team-mate Jeremy McWilliams in fourteenth place despite dislocating his wrist in the previous race. Youichi Ui completed the point-scorers on his MotoGP debut riding the WCM.

MotoGP, 2005, GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN, Makoto Tamada

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